This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
TRACY: Look what we found! See look. (Inaudible) Go find some more.
GRANT: So, this is a drip torch. We just walk around as fast as we can usually dripping fire.
GRANT: I receive a lot of questions about food plot strategies, hunting techniques, and how we use trail cameras – everything we do at The Proving Grounds. Some of these questions are best answered in person.
GRANT: So, our next field event, so we can show and tell and answer a bunch of these questions in person, is March 23rd and 24th.
GRANT: In addition to Daniel and I and the GrowingDeer Team, there’ll be folks here from Eagle Seed, Genesis Drills, Trophy Rock and other groups to help answer questions.
GRANT: Hey, as a special treat right before turkey season, Scott Hooks and world champion caller James Harrison will be here and give us some turkey call instruction and answering questions.
GRANT: Due to logistics, we can only get about 100 folks around The Proving Grounds and my voice only travels so far. So it's first come first serve. There will be more information at GrowingDeer.com, and we'll accept the first 100 folks that register for Field Day. The cost is $250. All the meals, lots of goodies included. Come have a great time and see how we enjoy Creation.
ANNOUNCER: GrowingDeer is brought to you by Bass Pro Shops. Also by Reconyx, Trophy Rock, Eagle Seed, Nikon, Winchester, LaCrosse Footwear, BloodSport Arrows, Flatwood Natives, Morrell Targets, Caldwell Shooting Supplies, Hook’s Custom Calls, Montana Decoys, Summit Treestands, Drake Non-Typical Clothing, Howes Lubricator, Genesis No-Till Drill, Yamaha, Fourth Arrow, ScentCrusher, iSCOPE, Mossy Oak Properties of the Heartland, Code Blue, D/Code, G5 Broadheads, Prime Bows, and Redneck Hunting Blinds.
GRANT: If you've been following GrowingDeer, you know we had a goal to tag a lot of does this fall. We had this goal because through the years – due to improved habitat and balancing the predator and prey populations – the number of deer have increased.
GRANT: Our goal and everyone's goals should be to have more quality food than there is deer throughout the year. Not just in prime growing months but in late summer, when it tends to be short, and late winter, like now.
GRANT: We want more food not just to grow bigger antlers but so does have healthier fawns and fawns gain enough body weight to survive these harsh winter conditions.
GRANT: Tracy and I have owned The Proving Grounds about 15 years, and during the first year, I saw one deer – a tail going around a cedar tree.
GRANT: That's a cool testimony that anywhere can produce quality deer if you put some love and care into the property. When there are more deer than quality forage during the two stress periods – late summer and late winter – there’s three practical solutions. Reduce the number of deer, increase the amount of quality forage, or do both simultaneously.
GRANT: This summer we added some food plots but still, given the wicked drought conditions, there wasn't enough forage to make sure every deer has ample quality food during these harsh winter conditions.
GRANT: So during the early season, Daniel and I started tagging every doe that got in bow range.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) Ready?
GRANT: (Whispering) Get ready. Get ready.
GRANT: Even though we were aggressively tagging does, we all tagged some nice bucks. Don't let the desire to tag a buck keep you from filling your doe quota.
DANIEL: (Whispering) You on him? You on him?
GRANT: During the late season, we needed just a couple of does to reach our goal.
GRANT: During this last part of season, I've been spending a little bit of time with Pops and at the ATA show. But Tyler, Daniel, and Clay have been out there chasing does.
GRANT: With the northwest wind forecast, Daniel and our new intern, Jacob, decided to hunt in a ghillie blind we had at Gobbler Knob.
DANIEL: (Quietly) It's January 12th. Season ends the 15th, so Jacob and I, our new intern, are out looking to punch a tag and hoping to get our management goal. We’ve got a lot of does coming in this food plot; got a great pattern; we're hoping that this cold weather that's moved through will get deer on their feet and we can reach our management goal.
DANIEL: (Whispering) They usually come out from this side and cross up, or they'll come up from up top – kind of caddy corner around.
GRANT: After waiting awhile, the first doe stepped out.
GRANT: It looked like the fawn and doe were feeding into the plot.
DANIEL: (Whispering) It's been a long time since I shot a deer.
GRANT: Then they spotted more deer coming down the mountain.
GRANT: These deer went into the plot and put their head down and started feeding.
GRANT: Daniel and Jacob patiently waited hoping a deer would step in range.
GRANT: Several of the deer drifted over the hill and Daniel begin to wonder if he was gonna get a shot.
GRANT: Then one of the does turned and seemed to be working closer to the blind.
GRANT: She milled around about 45 or 50 yards from the blind.
GRANT: Daniel wisely waited. Even though the doe seemed calm, he wanted a shot within 40 yards.
GRANT: As time went on, it was tempting to take that 42-yard shot, but once again, Daniel wisely held off.
GRANT: Finally, the doe was under 40 yards and Daniel drew.
GRANT: Just as Daniel prepared for the shot, the doe turned.
GRANT: Fortunately, she started feeding back towards Daniel and he readied the camera and prepared to take the shot.
DANIEL: (Whispering) Ooh. Well, I don't know. Uh. She ducked that arrow. I put, I put my pin right above that kinda (Inaudible) right there – above her elbow, down her shoulder. And she ducked quite a bit, hit high. I can't really tell if it, uh, hit lungs or not.
GRANT: As Daniel and Jacob were reviewing the footage and discussing the shot, Daniel looked over in the edge of the woods and thought he saw a white belly.
DANIEL: (Quietly) I looked out the window and I see something white. And I go, “Jacob, is that a belly?” And sure enough I turned the camera around and zoomed in, and she's not, I don’t know, 20 yards from the edge of the food plot, laying down, so.
GRANT: Seeing this, Daniel got out of the blind, headed toward the doe.
UNKNOWN: Man. It's cold.
DANIEL: Ooo. Holy cow. Wow, just soaked. The Blood Ring – I mean it's, it’s froze, but I mean it is just – it is just lung blood. Oh man, it is just absolutely soaked.
DANIEL: I was a little worried at the shot. Of course, I told Jacob, “I'm not gonna take anything over 40 being late season. They're just edgy and, um, they're going to react.” I waited. She got to 37 and I shot. She reacted just like I suspected but the DeadMeat did the job. Put her down within 60, 70 yards from the plot.
DANIEL: We've got two more does to go to meet our management goal. You can bet we're gonna be hunting hard the last three days of season. And I'm gonna stay positive and say we can get those last two, so. Easy drag to the road and to the truck that's coming. And we're gonna go to the house and warm up. Or at least I am. Ooo.
GRANT: I'm always amazed at how much deer can respond to a shot. Let's re-watch this in super slow motion.
GRANT: Notice the doe shows no sign of responding to the shot ‘til the arrow is more than half way there.
GRANT: We've frequently shared that here at The Proving Grounds deer respond to shots. There's a lot of hunting pressure here and it may be the deer are more likely to respond here than other places.
GRANT: Through the years, we've noticed that deer responding is not related to the hunter, the model of the bow or the arrow. It seems to be totally independent on the individual deer.
GRANT: To better understand this, I've reached out to a sound engineer and some other researchers. And together we're reviewing the footage – trying to pull all the knowledge we can together so not only myself but all of us can better understand when and when not to take a shot.
GRANT: Not only do we enjoy improving our hunting and habitat management techniques but we enjoy helping others.
GRANT: Just a few days ago, Daniel, Clay, and Tyler drove to near Clinton, Missouri to help a fellow landowner design a habitat management plan.
DANIEL: Pins are?
DREW: Pins are where the blinds are.
WILL: Where we don't see deer.
DREW: Yeah. (Laughter)
GRANT: The boys met with Will and Drew Coates and got right to work.
WILL: Ultimately with the goal of improving the hunting habitat here.
WILL: I mean that's why we bought the place.
WILL: Um. And for – mainly for deer. But, and we discovered there's a ton of turkey here.
DANIEL: And we were talking – I told Clay driving up, I said, “I bet their place is set up pretty good for turkey hunting.”
WILL: Yeah, the turkey are everywhere.
GRANT: Drew and Will purchased the property a few years ago and they've harvested some deer. But their goal is to improve the habitat so they can have more enjoyable hunts and harvest even more deer.
WILL: It's been high graded, uh…
DANIEL: Yeah, yeah.
WILL: …several times.
WILL: The way Grant describes – what does he call it – biological desert I think is what he calls it.
DANIEL: Yep. Yep.
WILL: We have a few of those. In fact, we have more than a few but we're totally into using prescribed fire.
DANIEL: Okay, great.
WILL: That's, that’s something we're wanting to learn from you guys and your experiences.
DREW: We want a good healthy population on here. We want to take – harvest mature bucks.
WILL: But we want all age classes.
WILL: And we're looking to harvest deer above three and a half years, bucks.
DREW: And take whatever does are, are necessary.
WILL: To get the right ratio. We eat a lot of venison.
WILL: And so, harvesting whatever does that we determine produces the right ratio, we're all about that.
DANIEL: Right now there's no difference from over here to over here?
DANIEL: And over here, over here?
DANIEL: But what's gonna happen is as you get food, ‘cause food is a limited resource in this, in this type of habitat. If we can get food, deer are gonna have a reason to be over here during daylight hours.
WILL: Hmm. Hmm.
GRANT: After Daniel understood the goals, it was time to get out in the field and do some work.
WILL: And it's a pretty steep drop down there.
DANIEL: We're in Central Missouri today touring a property. We got property owners Will and Drew. They've done a lot of work already on their property.
DANIEL: We're standing in an area that they're trying to restore into a glade and get native grasses and forbs to come up. They've done a lot of work. They've already cut down a bunch of cedars. They've let these cedars lay. What? Two years now?
DREW: Two years.
WILL: Two years.
DANIEL: And then Will, they're gonna come in with fire and burn 'em, but we're gonna take this glade restoration and bedding area to the next level.
DANIEL: These hardwoods aren't really quality, quality trees. So we're gonna go ahead, we're gonna take 'em off at the stump, treat 'em with herbicide so they don't stump sprout, and make even more room for these native grasses and forbs to come up.
GRANT: Daniel and I were both very impressed that Drew and Will had already started removing cedar trees.
DANIEL: …head fire through there.
GRANT: Daniel could already easily see the early results of cutting these cedars in that there were more forbs and native grasses recolonizing the area.
GRANT: Some of the cedars had been cut about two years and now getting dry enough to be burned.
GRANT: It's important to understand that most of these hardwoods weren't favorable mast producing trees and weren't desirable for wildlife habitat.
GRANT: For years, we've done the same type of management here at The Proving Grounds. That's a huge advantage we have. We can learn at our own property, improve and refine techniques and then share them with other landowners.
GRANT: As I mentioned earlier, we've significantly increased the carrying capacity and the deer herd at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Just recently, Daniel snapped a picture of a large bachelor group foraging in an area that used to be covered by cedars.
DANIEL: I would take this, those. I'd take most, most of those out. I'd probably leave that big one there.
DANIEL: But then the rest I would, I would take.
GRANT: One advanced technique we've shared with them – after burning and doing all the physical work – probably need a spot treatment of herbicide to control hardwood saplings from recolonizing the area.
DANIEL: Grant and I, we were talk – we were hoping to add 20, 30 acres of food to you guys.
DANIEL: If, if we could do that, that’d be awesome.
DREW: Think about it. Five hundred acres, and you've got 40 acres…
DREW: …you don't even have 10 percent.
WILL: That's not even 10 percent.
DREW: That's not even 10 percent.
DREW: And you saw, you've seen what they've done to the fields that we've got now.
WILL: That we did have planted.
DREW: Yeah, they just destroyed it.
DANIEL: They're hungry.
DANIEL: And so right now…
WILL: Why don't they come out during the day? (Laughter)
DREW: They're not that hungry. Let me see. I can eat lead or I can eat nothing. I think I'll eat nothing.
DANIEL: Well, we've been touring the property; kind of designing food plots, talking hunting strategy. And as we come into a food plot that Will and Drew have already established, uh, look around and deer are hungry. There's not a lot of forage out here for these deer. And one thing, guys, what we want to do, I look out here and we still got some edges, and the food plot just kinda stopped out here. We want to maximize our acres.
DANIEL: So, anything that's flat and we can get a drill and a tractor by and through, we’re gonna, we want to plant that. And we want to get as much food in these food plots as we can.
GRANT: The larger food plots on the ridge tops mean now there's quality food located where the winds are much more predictable and consistent than in the valleys.
DANIEL: See how much more consistent the wind is up here?
GRANT: Steep hillsides often mean thermals and winds tend to swirl a lot in the valleys, making food in that location practically un-huntable.
DANIEL: Just got down into a small valley where the landowners have actually planted food – several food plots. But instead of keeping these food plots, we're just gonna let this become a sanctuary. We've already started clearing cedars on the south-facing slope back behind me, creating great cover and habitat. So, we're just gonna let this grow up. We can't get in here and hunt effectively. The wind wants to swirl. We're gonna clear out these cedars and make this great habitat and create a sanctuary.
GRANT: Such areas where the winds swirls makes great sanctuaries. If you can't hunt it, you might as well let deer be comfortable there and stay on your property.
GRANT: In this location Daniel recommended they build some travel corridors from the sanctuary to the food plots they're gonna build and now they can keep deer on their property and hunt them very effectively.
GRANT: As they were touring the property, Daniel identified several good stand locations and talked about the need to be able to approach, hunt and exit without alerting deer.
DANIEL: So this stand – thermals are just gonna be dropping down.
DANIEL: When they come out here, what do they do? Do they just cross or do they come down?
WILL: No. They stay right here, and they don’t, they don’t, they're not going up. They're not going, they’re not going out.
DANIEL: You'd want to trim lanes very carefully ‘cause you don't want to take off too many. But you may have to take off one or whatever and then you can shoot through that gap through there.
DANIEL: Or even if they come out right here. They come down the hill. They come out right here; they're, they’re downwind of you.
WILL: Yeah, they're coming out here.
GRANT: After intensively touring the property, it was time to return to the cabin, whip out the maps and finalize the plan.
DREW: …weird little, uh, I had never seen this ridge before. But that is a, it is a…
WILL: So stay on this side of that ridge.
WILL: And come back.
DANIEL: Is there a saddle there?
DANIEL: I'm all about that being a staging area, hidey hole. I didn’t, this is gonna be a game changer for you, though – these big food plots.
GRANT: Adding these food plots will create bottlenecks where none existed – deer were just willy-nilly through the timber and travel corridors – making the property much easier to hunt.
GRANT: I'm very confident that when Will and Drew execute our plan, not only will they produce more and better deer, but have more enjoyable hunting.
GRANT: If you'd like more information about our hunting and habitat management strategies, please subscribe to our weekly email and our Instagram and Facebook pages.
GRANT: Winter days are a great time to get out and kick up a little snow and enjoy Creation, but most importantly take time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thank for watching GrowingDeer.